ROLLER HOCKEY HUB
The Roller Hockey Hub is on our way to getting interviews done with individuals around roller hockey. Next up is Tyler Spezia.
Tyler is currently playing at NCAA D1 at Bowling Green University. He is a member of the Alkali RPD and recently won GOLD with TEAM USA at the IIHF World Championships.
Q: Tell us about yourself (i.e. background in roller hockey)
TS: I’m Tyler Spezia, I’m 24 years old and I’m from the Detroit, Michigan area. I am one of 5 kids and I grew up playing roller hockey at Joe Dumars Fieldhouse. I played for the Tour Bordercats most of my youth in the 1993 birth division.
Q: When did you get your start in roller? What's your ice hockey background? Have you always been a roller player?
TS: I got started playing roller hockey when I was 4 years old. My older brother Chad played and I wanted to be just like him and followed in his footsteps. I didn’t get started playing ice hockey until I was 11 years old. I made the transition and hopped into the Little Caesars AAA program. I played 2 years of junior hockey in the USHL before earning a scholarship to play Division 1 NCAA hockey at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I am entering my senior season at BGSU. Throughout the years, I have played ice all fall and winter and then roller hockey in the summers. As I climbed the ladder with ice, it has been hard to play a lot of roller hockey. Right now, I play about 2-3 tournaments a summer. (IIHF, Narch, Statewars)
Q: What was it like to play for team USA in the World IIHF Championships tournament?
TS: Representing Team USA in the IIHF inline world championships has been a tremendous honor. There is nothing like it. Without a doubt my favorite tournament due to the fact you’re playing roller hockey in Europe with and against the best players in the world. It’s truly an eye-opening experience being overseas playing for your country. Dan Brennan, Joe Cook, Tim McManus and USA Hockey treated us first class and made the experience that much better. In 2014, I made the team out of camp with no expectations and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Coming home with a bronze medal was cool for my first time but I wanted that feeling of winning the gold medal. In 2015, we struggled a bit and came up way short in taking home 5th place. Having the tournament switch to every other year was tough because now we had to wait 2 years before getting another shot. This most recent trip in June of 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia was amazing. It was a new look team with a lot of new guys. We just came together as a team so quickly and decided that we were going to be the best team in the world. Winning gold with that group of guys was by far my favorite event and no question my biggest roller hockey accomplishment as there truly is no higher honor.
Q: How was it playing in the PRO Division at NARCh East Coast Finals?
TS: NARCh PRO in Mississauga, ON, CA was an absolute blast. So many good teams playing mixed with a top-notch facility is the recipe for a high-quality weekend which is exactly what it was. I played with Alkali RPD and we had one goal in mind and that was to win. We lost to the Snipers last NARCh in Ft. Myers so we still had a bad taste in our mouth. We played solid al weekend and earned a spot in the NARCh pro Final where we would meet the Snipers again. It was a lot of fun and coming out on top in Overtime was insane. That was all our first ever NARCh Pro title and what a feeling it was.
Q: What do you think is the future for the sport of roller hockey?
I am hopeful that the sport of roller hockey will continue to grow. I feel like there is a lot of young talent that will make each division stronger and stronger down the road. The PRO division is always competitive and that’ll be the case for many years due to that young emerging talent. I’m excited to see what it’s like in a few years.
Q: Anything you’d like to share with the readers of Roller Hockey Hub?
For all the readers out there, I would just like to say Thank you for reading. The roller hockey community is a small group and is one of the reasons I love it so much. It never gets old seeing the same faces in the summer and picking up right where you left off the summer before. For the kids out there, make sure you’re having fun. Hockey is supposed to be fun no matter the level you are playing. Enjoy it every day and keep working hard. Focus on work ethic, attitude and communication and you can play this game for a long time.
Q: How can we grow the sport? How is roller hockey doing today as a sport?
TS: Growing the sport is tough, but you must get the kids playing at a young age and making it a habit to play every summer. I see it a lot in the Detroit area. A lot of young kids are forming roller teams with their ice hockey teammates and that seems to be helping. I think forming a travel team is the best with keeping the game growing. Kids being a part of a big organization is the best route. A lot of uneducated people feel roller hockey is a free for all, so having organized travel hockey helps with people’s outlook on the sport.
Q: Is there anything you would like to see in the sport? Any closing words?
TS: I would just like to see kids having fun, being competitive and working hard. That is when the sport is at its best. My last words will be about the roller hockey/ice hockey argument. I have been making the switch from roller to ice my whole life. They are two different games that’s for sure, but some stuff does transfer over. The skill aspect and the scoring can help anyone’s ice hockey game. I have found that roller hockey gives me a lot of confidence heading into the ice hockey season and confidence is key. Roller hockey will only develop bad habits, if you allow it to. Playing roller hockey has made me the ice hockey player I am today and I’m forever grateful for that.
End of Interview
All of us at Roller Hockey Hub would like to thank Mr. Spezia for his time to participate in the interview. We hope our readers enjoy learning more about a young professional who's won at the highest levels of roller hockey. Tyler will be playing the PAMA Pro Invitational at State Wars July 28 - 30, 2018.